Nectar of the Gods? Not Quite, But it Does Pack a Wallop!
It is always interesting to be taking part in a traditional Kava drinking ceremony while you are in Fiji. All the villages around the islands are extremely communal based and the houses are generally located just meters away from each other. Kava is the main drink when there are popular functions such as weddings, family gatherings or even at funerals. The Kava drink also signifies a form of welcome in events and villages.
Kava (also called “grog” or “yaqona”) is made from the pounded root of a pepper plant but does not have the spicy flavor. It does on the other hand produce a temporary numbing sort of effect for a while in your mouth. After a few bowlfuls, or maybe even one for the uninitiated, you will feel a slightly happy sensation followed by a relaxed and peaceful state.
In Fiji, Kava is consumed by both men and women. So as a guest here, you will frequently be invited to participate in one of these common ceremonies and social customs. It is also regarded as the “National Drink” of Fiji.
Here are some of the few Kava Drinking etiquettes that you should know when participating in a formal ceremony:
- When entering a village always bring a gift of kava root which can be bought from the local market.
- Men and women should be dressed appropriately and decently.
- Everyone must sit and remain seated during the ceremony.
- You are allowed to take photographs but it is always respectful to get consent first.
- The ceremony then begins as the villagers grind up the Kava and strain it through a cloth bag into a large wooden bowl called a ‘tanoa’ in local dialect placed in the middle of the room.
- Then the village’s executive head drinks the Kava before it is offered to the rest of the room.
- After that it is shared with everyone.
- The men drink first and then the women.
- Clap once with a cupped hand making a hollow sound
- Say Bula!
- Drink in one gulp
- Clap three times.